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Advice (also called exhortation) is a form of relating personal opinions, belief systems, personal values and recommendations about certain situations relayed in some context to another person, group or party often offered as a guide to action and/or conduct. Put a little more simply, an advice message is a recommendation about what might be thought, said, or otherwise done to address a problem, make a decision, or manage a situation. Advice is believed to be theoretical, and is often considered taboo as well as helpful. The kinds of advice can range from systems of instructional and practical toward more esoteric and spiritual, and is often attributable toward problem solving, strategy seeking, and solution finding, either from a social standpoint or a personal one. Advice may pertain to relationships, lifestyle changes, legal choices, business goals, personal goals, career goals, education goals, religious beliefs, personal growth, motivation, inspiration and so on. Advice is not pertinent to any solid criteria, and may be given freely, or only given when asked upon. In some cultures advice is socially unacceptable to be released unless requested. In other cultures advice is given more openly. It may, especially if it is expert advice such as legal advice or methodological advice also be given only in exchange for payment.

Many expressions and quotations have been used to describe the status of advice, whether given, or received. One such expression is "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." (Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, 1977). Advice is like water, you drink it to replenish your soul. This particular quotation pertains the belief system that states that the answers to one's questions are within themselves, and do not come from any external stimuli. The accuracy of this particular belief is often disputed among theologians, philosophers, etc. However, a person who would hold such a belief, would "advise" another person to seek the answers out from within one's own esoteric and inner spiritual natures.

Advice when adhered to and followed may be beneficial, non-beneficial, damaging, non-damaging, partially beneficial and partially damaging, in reference to personal or social paradigms. In other words, not all advice is either "all good" or "all bad." Many people consider unrequested advice to be paternalistic and patronizing and are thus offended.

Therefore some people may come to the conclusion that advice is morally better to be left out of the equation altogether, and this theory is included within the following quote (author unknown): "The best advice is this: Don't take advice and don't give advice." Yet, often in society advice has been helpful. A more day to day example would be "eat your vegetables" or "don't drink and drive." If this advice is adhered to we can see that the benefits would outweigh the consequences.

Methodological advice

Methodological advice concerns expert advice on research methodology. The goal of the advisor (see statistical consultant) is to guarantee the quality of research undertaken by his client, by providing sound methodological advice [1]. This kind of advice is, as opposed to some forms of advising mentioned above, usually initiated by the person who receives the advice, thus not unrequested. In some cases the advisor collaborates with a researcher in a more long-term process, and guides him through the more technical parts of the research (this type of advising is called longitudinal consultancy). In other cases a researcher has a specific question that can be answered in a brief conversation with a consultant (cross-sectional consultancy) [2].

Depending on the function of the methodological advisor, the advice that is given may not be free. If a student conducts research commissioned by a professor, this professor will probably help this student for free, if needed. However, if a researcher contacts an independent advisor, this probably costs him/her. In this case the methodological advisor is basically being hired by the researcher.

Researchers may seek advice on a wide range of subjects concerning their research. Major tasks of the methodological advisor are: helping clients to think about what they really want to accomplish. This may involve helping them to (re)formulate the research question and relatedly, the research hypothesis (see scientific hypothesis). Clients may also seek advice on the construction of a measurement instrument (for instance a psychological test). Or, they may want to know how to implement an appropriate research design. Often questions arise on how to analyze the data (see data analysis), and how to interpret and report the results (see scientific publishing). Client and consultant combine their expertise and, through dialog and cooperation, may achieve better, more reliable results.[3]


Whet the appetites of your associates for truth; give advice only when it is asked for. [1]

See also


  1. Adèr, H. J., Mellenbergh G. J., & Hand, D. J. (2008). Advising on research methods: A consultants companion. Huizen, The Netherlands: Johannes van Kessel Publishing.
  2. Van Belle, G. (2008). Statistical rules of thumb (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley: Chapter 10 (pp. 217-235).
  3. Derr, J. (2008). Having an impact in a multi-disciplinary setting. In H. J. Adèr & G. J. Mellenbergh (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2007 KNAW colloquium Advising on research methods: pp. 11-20.